Football is back! After an eighty-day hiatus courtesy of an institutional mess that is still far from being solved, the ball finally started rolling again in Argentine stadiums. Argentine Football Association(AFA) representatives still have to decide who is going to get the tournament’s TV rights and manage to choose its authorities without killing each other, but at least this week they managed to have the players union lift the strike they had called because they were not getting paid, and could resume the tournament.
Vélez and Estudiantes kicked off the second half of the First Division Tournament last night, and their performance in the field showed that players were as anxious as the fans were to go back to playing. Vélez came on top, beating Estudiantes 3-2 in what was an extremely intense game.
This is an important win for Vélez, as the three points take them out of their awkward 25th ranking spot. But for Estudiantes, the loss has taken their opportunity to place themselves only one point away from leading team, Boca Juniors.
Vélez drew first blood. Only 6 and a half minutes into the game, striker Mariano Pavone received a long pass, made a quick cut on the Estudiantes defender and got the ball right over the keeper’s shoulder.
19 minutes later, Estudiantes’ player Augusto Solari evened the score. Sneaking up behing Vélez’s defenders, his a mid air tap caught everyone off guard, Vélez’s keeper included.
But this game was not going to end the first half with a boring old tie. This game was symbolic and worked to remind AFA representatives why they need to get their act together and allow the game to be played free of drama. At minute 44, Vélez’s Diego Zabala received a pass from the far left of the field and scored a beautiful header right into the upper left hand corner of the goal, giving his team the upper hand once again.
With the score ending 2-1 in the first half, Estudiantes came into the second half seeking blood (or another goal, your call). Just 2 minutes in, Javier Toledo received a high pass from the right corner of the field and reciprocated Vélez’s header with a beautiful header of his own, sending the ball straight to the lower back corner of the goal.
Yet, for it being the first game of the season, someone had to come on top. With only a minute left in the game, Vélez’s Pavone took advantage of a mistake from Estudiantes, intercepted a horrible pass, did a side ninja kick and scored the winning goal of the match.
The fixture will continue today when Patronato hosts Arsenal at 9 PM in Paraná, in the Province of Entre Ríos.